Consulting

Attentive. Dynamic. Affordable. Handbuilt works to help companies, organizations, and communities solve problems of people, capital, and design. Over the years, this has predominantly taken place in– but is not by any means limited to- the realm of real estate finance, community development, construction and engineering, and sustainability and energy.

We are able to provide a full suite of photography, imaging, and surveying services of residential, commercial, and institutional properties including digital photography, floor plans, and 3D walkthrough models.

We have worked in some of the most challenging capital climates in the United States with developers, community groups, governments, small businesses and entrepreneurs, larger companies, and nonprofit organizations to develop and implement their vision. Clients have ranged from neighborhood community arts organizations to building science professionals.

Some things we’ve worked on in the past:

Predevelopment consulting: Research, analysis, and modeling to identify appropriate sites or properties for development, developing budgets and pro forma, preparing proposals and submittals. Conceptual design to figure out what is going to work for a specific site. Interior design and construction scoping to figure out what a space will actually look like.

Finance: We have a well-developed toolkit from working in a range of real estate markets in some of the most challenging capital climates in the United States to navigate a variety of solutions partnership financing, unconventional financing, and the appraisal gap.

The first home completed by Southwest Housing in the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust program in the Bagley neighborhood on Detroit’s west side. Work performed by Jenkins Construction, featuring most original finishes from the home but with new, high-efficiency systems and LED lighting.

Project management & construction: We’ve worked with both large and small property investors and developers in Northern Indiana and the Calumet Region from 2012 to 2015 (home to Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, and suburbs, as well as rural and lakefront communities), consulting in the acquisition and development of portfolios ranging from two or three properties to two hundred fifty-nine. Work included preparing estimates and pro forma for construction jobs to planning portfolio development for private equity investors while navigating the complex regulatory mechanism surrounding the tax foreclosure statutes.

From 2015-2017, Nat worked with Southwest Housing Solutions to design and manage housing development programs with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, Flagstar Bank, and Chemical Bank (née Talmer), and also worked with the Detroit Home Mortgage Program, produced in conjunction with CRF-USA and the Detroit Land Bank Authority to develop and improve a meaningful framework for project management of affordable and market rate housing development. Nat developed from scratch a 200-page set of construction and design standards to govern renovation and sustainable, quality interior design. Nat also worked on two workforce development pilot programs with the Detroit Housing Commission and one with the aforementioned AFL-CIO program.

A bungalow on Mendota on Detroit’s West Side whose ceiling insulation needed some attention, as indicated on these two thermographic images from Nat’s handy dandy FLIR.

Though it has since wound down owing to funding constraints by the equity provider, AFL-CIO program was set to develop up to 300 homes by the time Nat left Southwest in 2017. The Talmer/Chemical Marygrove Program had been touted as an acclaimed model for neighborhood development. The program raised local land values through a creative financing mechanism and provided an excellent market foundation for the city’s new, adjacent Fitzgerald revitalization project, which also complements community development initiatives in the likes of the LiveSix initiative and others.

The art of the elegant spreadsheet: Successful projects require information infrastructures that are sufficiently extensive, not unmanageably complex, and easy enough to be used by any team member.

Disposition: Developing strategies to sell, manage, or refinance a completed property or a portfolio of properties.

Collaborative projects, public speaking, and volunteerism: Nat assisted in producing the Open/Closed Forum on Vacant Property in 2011 and 2012 with NextSTL. Nat spoke at Rust Belt to Artist Belt: At The Crossroads in 2012, at 1871 in Chicago in 2014 on crowdfunding, real estate, and financial innovation, and at his alma mater Grinnell College on entrepreneurship and the liberal arts. While at Southwest Housing, Nat managed an extensive platform for outreach and has also volunteered with Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative to help develop their Sustainable Homes and Neighborhoods Toolkit, Pingree Manufacturing / Detroit Boots on the Ground, an apparel manufacturing and veterans empowerment social enterprise, various USGBC chapters, the Chicago Passive House Alliance, and various community cycling advocacy groups in St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, and Windsor.

Nat has formal technical training in energy efficiency from BPI (residential retrofits, insulation analysis), RESNET (HERS ratings), and PHIUS (Passive House design and modeling in WUFI and THERM). Nat also has obtained extensive sustainability education from the US Green Building Council and its affiliates (in which he previously held LEED accreditation).

Let’s get started: Shoot me an e-mail at nathaniel at handbuiltcity dot org.